Why does skin wrinkle with age? Basically, the molecules that give young skin its strength and resilience are damaged over time, and our bodies do not fully repair those damages. Therefore, taking care of your skin is more about avoiding the damage that causes wrinkles than treating existing wrinkles. Here are some easy tips:
1. Avoid Sunlight and Use Sunscreen
Our skin is our largest organ. In addition to holding our bodies together, its main job is to protect us from environmental factors. One of the most harmful environmental factors is the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Nothing does more to damage those molecules that keep skin strong than UV rays. The peak hours of UV intensity are from 10am-2pm, so it is best to seek shade or shelter during those hours, even in cold weather months and on cloudy days.
When you do need to be outside, make sure you wear protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hats and long sleeved shirts. Also, apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to exposed skin. Keep in mind that sunscreen breaks down and washes away with time and sweat, so make sure you reapply every couple of hours when you are outside, and more frequently if you are swimming.
2. Eat Foods That Are High in Antioxidants
Free radicals are molecules that damage and change our biological systems, including those molecules that keep skin strong and resilient. They are produced both inside and outside of our body. Antioxidants are enzymes that protect us from free radicals. Some antioxidant enzymes are vitamins C and E, and carotenoids. We get most of our carotenoids from fruits and vegetables, particularly those that are red, orange and yellow in color. Eating a diet loaded with antioxidant vitamins C and E and carotenoids is a great step toward protecting your skin from the damage of free radicals. Some examples of such foods are berries, pomegranates, carrots, tomatoes and peppers. In general, the brighter the color, the better.
3. Avoid Cigarette Smoke (both first- and secondhand)
Cigarette smoke, like air pollution and UV rays, is a generator of free radicals. While most people know about the damaging effects of cigarette smoke to the respiratory system, not as many are aware of the damage that smoking can inflict on your skin. The toxins in cigarettes cause the blood vessels in your skin to narrow, which reduces the distribution of blood (and therefore, oxygen) to your skin. Since oxygen is reduced, the skin becomes less efficient at repairing and healing itself.
Smoking also affects the skin’s surface.The phenomenon called “Smoker’s Face” describes prominent wrinkles that run from the corners of the eyes (possibly caused by squinting to avoid cigarette smoke in the eyes); sunken cheeks; and lines and wrinkles that run perpendicular to the lips, which are caused by pursing the lips to hold the cigarette and take a drag. The lack of oxygen can also lead to discoloration in the skin, giving it a mottled, reddish appearance.
If you are currently a smoker, do your skin a favor and quit. Additionally, since secondhand smoke also generates free radicals, avoid smoky places like some bars and restaurants in states that have not passed anti-smoking legislation. While it is not easy to quit smoking, there are many resources out there to help.
4. Drink Lots of Water
Many health professionals recommend drinking at least eight cups of water a day to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water flushes toxins out of your system, and hydration affects all organs in your body, including your skin. While this may not prevent wrinkles, staying hydrated will certainly reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
5. Take Precautions to Treat the Outside of Your Skin Well
So far, a lot of our tips focus on keeping your skin healthy from the inside out. There are several things you can do to take care of your skin’s surface as well:
While water is great for keeping you hydrated, exposing your skin to too much hot water removes the oils on the surface of your skin that keep it from drying out. Instead of using very hot water during showers and baths, using warm water and limit your bathing time.
Strong soaps and detergents can also remove essential oils from your skin. Choose soaps, cleansers and detergents that are mild and free of harsh chemicals.
Instead of rubbing your skin dry after bathing, pat excess water off to maintain some of the moisture from your shower or bath.
When shaving, use a shaving cream or gel and shave in the direction of hair growth.
Use a moisturizer on your skin, especially if it is dry. Keep in mind that moisturizers mainly work to help skin retain and redistribute water, so some of the more expensive creams that claim to add proteins to your skin may not be worth the extra money.
6. Enjoy life/Manage Stress/Stay Rested
Lifestyle matters as much as genetic factors. Stress can trigger hormones that make skin more sensitive and prone to acne. Lack of sleep similarly makes your body, and overall health, more prone to infections and illness, which affects your entire body, including your skin.
A guest post by Daniel P on behalf of Face Clinic London